Scrolling on social media, checking messages, daydreaming and other distractions are costing the UK economy a staggering £19.9 billion each year, suggests new research from UK venue The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre (QE11CC)
The report “The Distracted Economy: We are losing focus – how to hold attention and keep delegates engaged during business meetings and events”, is the result of a survey conducted by 3GEM on behalf of The QEII Centre, of 1,000 UK desk-based workers who attend both online and in-person meetings and was conducted to better understand and tackle the growing concern of distraction.
The report takes a deep dive into the issue inorder to better understand the challenges faced by delegates in their battle to stay focused.
Among the key findings are:
The crisis of attention The research found that distraction during online meetings costs the UK economy more (£11.1 billion) than in-person meetings (£8.8 billion). At work, over a third of people (38%) are concerned about their ability to be fully focused during business meetings or events, and in everyday life, 43% admit to often being easily distracted during their leisure time.
Working in a post-pandemic age Over two-thirds (36%) of respondents believe their work colleagues have become more easily distracted during in-person business meetings and events.
Distracted economy Eighty three percent of respondents openly admit to losing focus during in-person meetings and 85% during online meetings.
Senior management is not immune to distractions, with 40% of them admitting to being distracted for a third of the meeting.
More than half of the respondents (52%) agreed that productivity is higher when everyone attends in-person meetings compared to online meetings.
Simon Hughes, a past QE11CC non-executive director and a leading UK event industry figure believes the report is a useful tool for event planners to adapt their events to audiences with changed habits and preferences. “This report is essential for event planners and venues. By analysing what distracts delegates, we can plan how to cope with the competing demands for attention. It also showcases that we are sociable animals that need to collaborate in person to boost engagement and productivity. Despite the number of people who enjoy remote working, the preferred meeting format is in person over online. This is really good news for venues – but they will have to offer more flexibility with their spaces, formats and tools to capture attention.” He said
Mark Taylor, chief executive at QEIICC explains the reasons to commissioning the report. “In this increasingly distracted world, we thought it was crucial to understand the causes behind the deficit in attention span and what can be done about it. Something has to change. From being distracted by digital tools to boredom and multi-tasking, the findings reveal the reasons behind the distraction and help us understand the need for more engaging interactions. With this report, we hope to help professionals in the event industry to collaborate impactfully, and meet the ever-changing delegate’s needs of the future.” He said.